New data from the latest ChinaTrak 2023 survey shows that despite levels of hearing loss in China comparable with global estimates, hearing aid adoption rates remain low.

At the same time, Chinese users have reported very high levels of satisfaction with hearing aid use (95% in 2023, up from 92% in 2020), with survey participants stating it had improved their work and social lives.

The findings, which represent an update on the survey carried out in 2020, came after a face to face targeted recruitment process was employed in order to achieve the highest yield, given the historically low prevalence of hearing aid adoption in China. The 2023 survey included a sample size of over 13,000 people, of which 456 were hearing aid owners and 392 were hearing impaired non-owners. In the respective groups, there was a prevalence of 4.2% and 5.2% in the over-18s. Of these, just 9.3% were hearing aid users, representing 0.4% of the total population. Interestingly, just 15% of HA owners have binaural treatment, compared to 35% in 2020.

The researchers found that 14% of participants had had a hearing test in the last five years, a significant drop on 2020, when it was 18%. Hospitals do most hearing tests followed by hearing screening during community social activities. It was observed that while people had more recommendations from healthcare professionals to explore hearing aid usage, there was no concurrent action taken in most cases. Even though 27% of the hearing-impaired cohort were told to use hearing aids, just 9% did so, representing a 65% dropout rate, which was mainly linked to the level of hearing impairment, with those with mild hearing loss less likely to seek intervention. The more severe the hearing loss, the higher the adoption rate.

High levels of satisfaction among users

Almost all users – 95% – are satisfied with their hearing aid. People with hearing aids also noted that hearing aids increase their chances of being promoted, to get the right job and earn a higher salary. Respondents were enthusiastic about the benefits they had experienced since using hearing aids, for example, the positive impact on their job, while they also reported feeling less depressed. In addition, improved quality of sleep was reported by those using hearing aids.

They also reported that their self-confidence, sense of safety, and social life had improved as a result of their hearing aid use. For example, 98% of hearing aid owners said their hearing aids improve their quality of life at least sometimes while 92% of users said they feel more confident moving in a city since wearing hearing aids. Talking on the phone, with family members at home, and children were the most critical listening situations identified by hearing aid users. Some 63% of all HA owners think they should have gotten their HAs sooner, citing the main reason as missing out on mental and emotional health.

Hearing aid adoption, while low overall, is growing in recent years in China – some two-thirds of the currently owned hearing aids were acquired in 2021 or later. Technological advances are also increasing in popularity – 16% of owners use a hearing aid app, and 81% are satisfied with it. Just 2% had used a remote fitting service, however, while most had never heard of it.

This latest Trak data includes some notable advances since the last survey three years ago. ChinaTrak 2023 is part of the EuroTrak / APACTrak studies, which aim to paint a comprehensive picture of the quality of hearing care in major geographies worldwide.

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